Recap: I did the Spice Tour, had lunch at Ocean Grill’s and dinner at the Archipelago Cafe.
Scavenger hunt: Our group was asked to meet at the hotel lobby at around 9:30. Since we had done the Stone Town tour two days prior, we had a sense of where everything was located with Stone Town being a really compact area. We were broken off into 4 teams and were given seven clues that were related to a particular location or object. The objective was for us to take a selfie/picture that includes all the team members so they could know the picture was from today. According to them, we would get to “explore” Stone Town. Which is what I thought too. Looking back, I don’t know why. All of us were super competitive and the objects/ locations were all spread out over the area. The sun was brightly beating down our back and sweat was beginning to form everywhere. Also, I was puffing and panting and my cheeks were tomato-red. I was definitely not the fairest of them all.
One of the “objects” (?) we had to take a picture with was the Austin Princess which we did pass by on our tour but didn’t have a chance to look at closely. It is an old car which was used by the wealthy people (royalty mostly) for transport.
Meeting with Salma Maoulidi: The end of the Scavenger hunt definitely demanded a shower. All of us headed down to the conference room to meet with Ms. Salma Maoulidi (she’s the one in the printed dress and headscarf) who provided us with the best meetings I had been to on this trip. She talked about the role of the women in the Oman-Zanzibar conflict in the 1950s. This hasn’t/wasn’t talked about much by anyone nor emphasized in literature so it was genuinely fascinating to hear the wonderful stories about the women.
Anglican Church: The tour guide took us to the Anglican Church on foot. (Seriously, what is up with all the walking? Much needed exercise I guess). The Church is a site of conflict because while according to the Omanis we met, it was a place to store medicines or spices. However according to the Zanzibaris, it was a place where slaves were kept.
The Church tour guide (named Elvis- if anyone goes there say hi) allowed us to look at the different narratives framed on one side of the Church wall that talked about the brutality that the slaves faced.
We were ushered into these cramped quarters that looked like the definition of living hell (pictured left). Being short this time I was actually at an advantage because the taller members of the group had to stand with bent necks in these rooms. These cellars/jails (for a lack of a better word to describe these) looked tragic. The chains were fake but they were just a depiction of the living conditions of the slaves who were forced to live on top of each other in these cramped quarters. Elvis told us that they defecated into a particular area and if they were lucky the high tide would sort of clean the area. If not then…you get the idea. Whoever survived these harsh conditions without complaining/whining/breaking down/ dying were sold for higher prices whereas the others were sold at lower prices. Women slaves were also sold at high prices because she could bear kids and there would be more slaves for her master.
When we stepped out of those quarters, we were taken to a grassy area that had a square pit with statues in it (right). The structure was built by a Swedish lady in 1998 and the statues were representations of how slaves were treated during those times. The chains that are used in the statue are real chains from that era. The slaves were made to stand in the burning sun while they were being sold off to different buyers and they weren’t allowed to talk to each other.
I’m going to pause to let all that sink in.
The Church looked pretty against the blue sky and we stepped inside to look around.
Also it was located right next to a mosque which yet again symbolized Harmony according to Elvis.
The glass windows (left), the seating area of the church (middle) and the altar (right), mural on the floor of the altar (bottom)
Our tour ended when we stepped out of the church. As a parting fact, he also pointed out to us that the pillars of the Church were accidentally put on upside down but the man in charge said “It’s ok. No worries. Hakuna Matata” and that was how the famous Timon and Pumba catchphrase was born. (Fact: People in Zanzibar say “Hakuna Matata” a lot. I don’t know if they say this only to tourists because they feel its a worldwide known phrase (if you don’t know it, I judge you. Go watch Lion King) or if they’re actually accustomed to saying it)
We walked back to the hotel where our coordinators told us we were off to eat an early dinner. All of us got changed and set off towards one of the restaurants located near the beach to have dinner there. Only instead of dinner, our supervisors surprised us with a pre-planned sunset cruise. (WHAAAA)
Sunset cruise: Since we didn’t know we were going on the cruise, a lot of us had worn jeans and as I waded through the water to get to the boat ladder, my jeans were dripping wet. The boat was somewhat of a double deck with an uncovered top deck. The head of the boat had live musicians playing some catchy, upbeat Swahili music.
The guy who was coordinating the musicians and I’m guessing was the ‘entertainer’ wins the most friendly man of the year award. He taught us a couple of Swahili words (pole pole [pronounced polay polay] means slowly, slowly), he got us to sing along (and dance along) to the songs and kept serving us snacks and drinks. By the end of the dhow cruise, I’d had so many nuts and chips and so much cheese.
He also got me to play a musical instrument which basically looks like an African rattle. I’ve never been more relaxed.
I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many photos. I took photos of the scenery , I asked people to take pictures of me (guilty of also taking a lot of pretentious ones) but I think the best picture I took was that of the sunset. I’m not one of those people who fall seasick. I loved watching the sea lap up the boat from the top deck (Tip: the top deck was actually scary because it had zero railings. One false move, one jerk of the boat could plummet you into the waters. Not for kids)
The whole ride felt dreamy. Like could’ve stayed on that boat for days. Maybe someday, I will.